Answer: Garter snakes can be spooky when you encounter them, but they are great for your garden, feasting on all kinds of slugs, snails, beetles, etc. They do not attack humans so they don't pose a physical threat to gardeners. There is no known snake repellent. There is one commercial product which the manufacturer claims can repel one species of garter snake and one species of rattlesnake. It is made of naphthalene (moth crystals) and sulfur. It doesn't keep snakes away and can make your yard smelly. Homemade remedies (e.g. mothballs, pepper) won't work, either. You can hose the garden area off before entering if you suspect snakes are hiding in tall grass. The water will usually make them slither away.
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